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Board Games with "D&D feel" for kids


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Mercurius

Legend
I think those are a bit too complex, Morrus.

Anyhow, I picked up a copy of Dungeon. I wanted Talisman or Descent, but had to admit that was more for me. Dungeon was only $15 so is low risk. If the girls like it then maybe next year I'll go up a notch.
 


Mercurius

Legend
Let us know how it turns out -- Dungeon is a great choice. Heck, my wife prefers it to D&D!

OK, so we had our first game of Dungeon on Christmas day and the girls loved it. Maybe part of it was that I was playing with the, but my nine-year old in particular just had a blast. Actually, she tends to be quite competitive and even though she had acquired enough treasure to win the game, she wanted to keep playing - "I want to fight more monsters!"

I was happy because I can see transitioning them gradually to more complex games. I do have a copy of Wrath of Ashardalon that I've been holding onto but never played. I'm thinking that we can give that a go in a year or so - as well as, perhaps, Talisman, Descent, etc, and then try out full-blown D&D in a year or two. But it was nice to see that sparkle and glint in their eyes, especially the nine-year old.

As for me, I enjoyed the game but couldn't help but think about how it was kind of like D&D without all of the really interesting bits. Still fun to play. I did find the basic set-up with the four types of heroes to be a bit odd...the rogue and cleric being very weak, the fighter stronger, and the wizard the strongest. I would have liked to see them make them more equal even if it required a bit more complexity.

How complex is Ashardalon compared to Dungeon? Let's posit this scale of 1-10:

9-10 Complex RPGs
7-8 Moderate RPGs
5-6 Complex board games/Simple RPGs
3-4 Moderate board games
1-2 Simple board games (e.g. checkers)

If 3E and 4E are a 9, and 5E is a 7 or 8 (depending upon optional rules), and Dungeon is maybe a 3, where would Wrath, Talisman and Descent be? I'm guessing in the 5-6 range?
 

Evhelm

Explorer
Just as an additional vote, if you are always going to play it with them (i.e. if there's always someone who can do a lot of reading for narrative/story purposes) then I'm throwing my vote behind Mice & Mystics, as it may be a really fun one too. (I see at least one other person has already thrown it out there) Probably have to wait a year or so for your youngest, but last New Years my friends got together at my house and ended up playing 2-3 straight days of it over the course of a week.

At the time, we were all feeling the D&D itch but had given up on 4e and were waiting for official releases from 5e; M&M filled that void nicely without any major prep work on anyone's part. As I recall, the rules were quite straightforward, but the game remains challenging!
 


Wednesday Boy

The Nerd WhoFell to Earth
How complex is Ashardalon compared to Dungeon? Let's posit this scale of 1-10:

9-10 Complex RPGs
7-8 Moderate RPGs
5-6 Complex board games/Simple RPGs
3-4 Moderate board games
1-2 Simple board games (e.g. checkers)

If 3E and 4E are a 9, and 5E is a 7 or 8 (depending upon optional rules), and Dungeon is maybe a 3, where would Wrath, Talisman and Descent be? I'm guessing in the 5-6 range?

Rating the complexity with my six year old in mind, I would rate Wrath of Ashardalon higher in complexity than 5E. As a board game Wrath has strict steps each round and a set complexity in the strategy. You have to know that attacking the gibbering mouther instead of the kobold is better because the gibbering mouther's predetermined attack is more damaging than the kobold's. You have to end your turn on the edge of a tile (even if there's no story reason to) because you need to explore and place new tiles every turn.

With 5E (and RPGs in general), since the interaction with the game is less strict and more forgiving, it's easier to let the players do what they think their character would do and then fit their actions into the rules and structure of the game. In 5E my daughter doesn't have to know that attacking the gibbering mouther first is the "right" choice because as the GM I can change the enemies' actions so the story continues to move forward in an interesting way. Or if my daughter wants to stop in the middle of the map and rest instead of rushing forward every turn, the game won't automatically punish her for in character actions.

Once players make their one-time decisions (stats, race, class, etc.), the rest of the RPG is make believe--which is much more intuitive than a complex board game.
 


Mercurius

Legend
[MENTION=53678]Wednesday Boy[/MENTION], that's a very good point. 5E (or any RPG, to some extent) can be as simple--from the player's perspective--as an interactive story.
 

Vyvyan Basterd

First Post
Another vote for Mice & Mystics from me. My 9- and 13-year-old boys got this for me for Christmas. So far only my wife and I have played, as the boys received too many cool new video games to pull them away, but they finally expressed interest in playing.

The mechanics of the game are neat. Great story. And the minis are well-made enough that I feel inspired to get back into painting so the minis match the level of the artwork on the game tiles.
 

Nytmare

David Jose
Another vote for Mice and Mystics, and maybe, just maybe a vote for the Pathfinder Card Game (depending on the reading skills of your youngest).

I personally have found the Pathfinder Card Game to be the only "you're not really playing an RPG" game that I've played more than twice. We're maybe a dozen or so adventures in and I haven't lost any interest, or wished that I was just playing an RPG instead.
 


Vyvyan Basterd

First Post
Heh. I have the same problem. Each time I ask if my girls want to play they politely decline so they can play with their horde of other toys instead.

Our 9-year-old finally played yesterday. He enjoyed himself, but declined a second chapter. He said he would play again though. And he had the base rules fully grasped before we left the first tile.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
Another vote for Mice and Mystics, and maybe, just maybe a vote for the Pathfinder Card Game (depending on the reading skills of your youngest).

I personally have found the Pathfinder Card Game to be the only "you're not really playing an RPG" game that I've played more than twice. We're maybe a dozen or so adventures in and I haven't lost any interest, or wished that I was just playing an RPG instead.
Allow me to cast a dissenting vote. I wouldn't go so far to say that I hate the Pathfinder Card Game, but it's simply a very bad game. I got bored of the mechanics after my second game and only continued playing in the vague hope it would get better at some point. Well, it didn't. It's extremely repetitive requiring very little decision making. Its only merit is the (very slow, completely luck-based) 'advancement' of characters. There's zero sense of 'adventure' or 'story' while playing. You're just flipping cards to determine which dice you have to roll to make a test.

The D&D Adventure System games may not have been a revelation for gamers but at least it requires a modicum of tactical play. Positioning is important, as is making the most of your resources (powers, items).

Now is either game suitable for kids? I suspect that the PCG has an advantage here due to its simplicity, but I know I'd rather introduce my kids to DnDAS. It also offer more eye-candy: dungeon tiles and minis. Both games use rather a lot of text, so that's a minus.

Simply running a free-style RPG based on a few simple rules would probably be preferable to either.
 

Nytmare

David Jose
Allow me to cast a dissenting vote. I wouldn't go so far to say that I hate the Pathfinder Card Game, but it's simply a very bad game. I got bored of the mechanics after my second game and only continued playing in the vague hope it would get better at some point. Well, it didn't. It's extremely repetitive requiring very little decision making. Its only merit is the (very slow, completely luck-based) 'advancement' of characters. There's zero sense of 'adventure' or 'story' while playing. You're just flipping cards to determine which dice you have to roll to make a test.

Huh, from my group's point of view, we've all been sort of shocked at how well the game manages to keep tricking us into parsing a bunch of randomized story bits as an actual story. It might have all just been dumb luck up until this point, but we've enjoyed how the "right" NPCs, monsters, and story elements keep popping up at the right time and in the right places.
 
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Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
If anybody wants a cheap version of Fantasy Forest, Atomic Comics in Hampton VA has a $20 copy. It is dust covered and some of the plastic covering the miniatures looks ripped and yellowed. The box looks like it has never been opened and nearly 3 decades old, so I am sure the stuff inside is in good condition. Just blow off the dust and away you go...
 

It's no board game, but I've had a huge pile of success with the pseudo-wargame Fuzzy Heroes. You use your kids' stuffed animals as combatants in a cute, simple war game of Fuzzy Heroes vs. The Naughty Eye King and his Renegade Boy Toys (action figures). If you've already got a bunch of these lying around your house, you're practically already there. Buy-in is cheap for the book or .pdf and the rule system is wonderfully simple.

My 5-year-old picked up on the rules really easily, and loved it. I've run it twice at local conventions, and people keep asking when I'm going to run it again (I really should take care of that.)
 


Phoenix8008

First Post
It may not be enough D&D 'flavor' for you, but my family has enjoyed many games of D&D Clue over the years. Probably out of print and I'm not sure how expensive it might be to find, but it's a fun D&D flavored version of Clue with some random monster combat (resolved by a single die roll). Nice and easy for youngsters to learn also.

Looks like it can still be bought on Amazon.com for either $27 or $43 depending on which version you get.
 


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